NFL Preview: AFC North Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) made it into the playoffs last season as the Wild Card. In developing our Pittsburgh Steelers 2016 NFL preview we’ve considered the precarious health of QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Le’Veon Bell. This is a team that has the potential to make it into the postseason or finish out of it.
Steelers Offense: B+
Now in his mid-thirties, Roethlisberger (3,938 YD, 21 TD, 16 INT) continues to perform at a high level. He’s got a great receiver in Antonio Brown (1,834 YD, 13.5 AVG, 10 TD) and there’s free agent TE Ladarius Green, who replaces retired Heath Miller. Unfortunately, WR Martavis Bryant (50 REC, 15.3 YD, 6 TD) has been suspended for 2016. The Steelers have premier running back Le’Veon Bell (556 YD, 4.9 AVG, 3 TD), as well as RB DeAngelo Williams (907 YD, 4.5 AVG, 11 TD). Both Roethlisgerer and Bell have health issues. Bell may also face suspension for missing required drug tests related to past drug use. The offensive line, which has struggled recently, may find stability in 2016 with the return of key players.
Steelers Defense: B
The Steelers did well stopping the run last season, but they were dismal against the pass, ranking 30th. However, they were fairly effective in preventing teams from scoring, allowing 19.9 PPG (11th ). The team used the 2016 draft to bolster its defense, picking up potential starters CB Artie Burns (Miami, Fla), DB Sean Davis (Maryland), and DT Javon Hargrave (South Carolina State). The defensive line and linebacking unit are solid, having notched 48 sacks (3rd ).
Steelers Special Teams: B-
In 2015, the Steelers had a tough time at placekicker. Veteran placekicker Shaun Suisham was out for 2015 with a torn ACL. After trying various replacements, the team landed Chris Boswell, who hit 29 of 32 field goals. Suisham and Boswell will compete for the spot. Punter Jordan Berry is back after a fine first year. The return game was average.
Steelers Coaching and Management: B+
Coach Tomlin (92-52), who in nine years has a .639 winning record, two AFC titles, and one Super Bowl Championship, has done a fine job in keeping the Steelers in the mix time and again. Look for him to get his 100th victory in 2016.
Last Word: Pittsburgh Steelers 2016 NFL Preview
Our Pittsburgh Steeler 2016 NFL preview and pick projection takes into account that of nine of the last teams the club faces in 2016, only one had a 2015 winning season. Still, there are concerns with important starters on offense as well as with a competitive Bengals team giving Pittsburgh a run for it.
For our overview of the AFC and to link to other AFC teams, please click here.